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Researchers predict higher GDP growth for 2007

Several economic research institutes predicted that Hungary's GDP will grow by 2.4-3% in 2007, higher than the finance ministry's 2.2% prediction, speakers at an event organized by the Economics Society noted yesterday.

In addition, the finance ministry predicted investment growth of 2.4%, while various researchers estimated that growth would be anywhere from 1-4.2%. Predictions on the rise in the average consumer price index also came in across a broader range, with the finance ministry giving a 6.2% figure to the central bank's 7%. The research institutes are all lower than the bank, with Pénzügykutató predicting 6.5%, Kopint-Datorg and Ecostat 6.4%, and GKI 5.8%.

Pénzügykutató senior researcher Mária Zita Petschnig said they expected inflation to peak at 8-8.2% in the first quarter of 2007, and then to decline to a year-end rate of 4.5%. Kopint-Datorg's Éva Palócz said she saw inflation peaking in March at 8%, but warned that price hikes controlled by local governments could push the year-end inflation rate up to 6.4%.

GKI's András Vértes agreed with the first-quarter peak in inflation, and saw price hikes as capable of pushing the inflation rate for the year up to 5.8%. He noted the strengthening forint as a factor that could keep a lid on inflationary processes and predicted that the forint would stay at an average of 250 to the euro through 2007. (MTI)